John W. Loftus said:
“I'm sure you think that same way when it comes to Christianity, too. And yet the advancement of science has shoved aside a great deal of superstitious beliefs.”
This is a considerable overstatement.
It is true that science has shoved aside a great deal of superstition. And for that we may all be grateful.
ii) All this means is that science is good at what science is good at. Christians are not opposed to technology.
The proper subject matter of science is ordinary providence and empirical phenomena.
iii) However, science is incompetent to establish metascientific claims.
iv) In addition, what you think science is able to prove depends on your philosophy of science, viz., realism v. antirealism.
“It has replaced divinations, astrology, magic, prophecies, sorcerers, witchdoctors, talk of gods and goddesses, dreams from the gods, with meteorology, medicine, geology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, etc, etc.”
This is another overstatement.
i) You’re regurgitating the old sociological, bellicose model of Durkheim, Draper, and Alexander White, parroted ad nauseum by their contemporary sycophants (e.g. Dawkins), according to which there is a battle to the death between Christianity and modernity.
Once upon a time, Christians, in their prescientific innocence, believed all sorts of supernatural stuff-n-nonsense which modern man rightly finds incredible.
But instead of making a clean break with the nursery, Christians have chosen to reinterpret the Bible and jettison whatever dogmas have proven unduly inconvenient, in a sort of land-for-peace deal.
As a result, whenever science is on the march, Christianity is in retreat, fighting one losing battle after another, abandoning one outpost after another, in a series of rearguard maneuvers and guerrilla tactics as it surrenders territory inch-by-inch against the inexorable progress of science, taking its last stand in the inaccessible crannies of the God-of-the-gaps or the la-la land of sacred suprahistory.
ii) But this proud prediction has been proven false time and again. Rodney Stark, our leading sociologist of religion, used to buy into that armchair as well until he found it overwhelmed by a rising tide of demographics to the contrary.
iii) It is quite true that theological liberals have played the role assigned to them by Durkheim, Draper, and White. But that’s only one side of the story, and a rapidly shrinking side of the story.
Liberal churches are dead and dying churches. Such is the fate of the mainline denominations.
Bible-believing churches are growing churches.
iv) At a practical level, all of the old superstitious are alive and well. When you secularize a culture, the result is not to render it less religious, but only less Christian. The natives simply revert to pre-Christian religiosity.
Or else they introduce new, scientific superstitions like Darwinism, ufology, and Jungian psychology.
v) At a principled level, you’re deliberating mashing things together in a guilt-by-association tactic.
a) There are many charlatans who peddle their wares.
b) The Bible forbids the occult, not because it has no basis in fact, but because it does have a basis in fact. Christians still believe in the dark side.
c) What is more, Christians still believe in miracles.
“Even when it comes to prayer, modern Christians do not believe God can do as much because of the recognized laws of nature. The ancients didn't have a concept of the ordered laws of nature. God was controlling it all, like pulling on strings on puppets from just above the mountains. In their minds God would literally have no trouble moving a mountain. But the prayers of Christians today are very lame, precisely because of the advancement of science.”
i) The ancients, who had to live off the land, were more in touch with the rhythms of nature than are moderns who live and move from one climate-controlled environment to another.
ii) The Jews had a doctrine of providence. Miracles occur within a general framework of divine providence.
iii) Science does nothing to subtract from the possibility or actuality of miraculous events. Natural laws are descriptive, not prescriptive or proscriptive.
All you’ve done is to reify and deify natural law.
iv) Rank-and-file Jews and Christians pray the same way they’ve prayed for thousands of years. And God answers their prayers the same way he’s done for thousands of years.
“So, like pantheists who think that every waking moment of their lives and every experience they have ever had is maya, or an illusion, you believe that it's more plausible to think there is no material world, which denies every waking momment of our lives and every experience we have ever had, eh? I suppose then, it's more plausible that you have always been dreaming in a coma-like state, too! Travis, this isn't a refutation of anything, but a comparison, okay?”
i) You keep missing the point of idealism. Idealism is phenomenalogically equivalent to dualism. Your experience would be exactly the same either way. For Berkeley, the sensible world is just what it appears to be, nothing more and nothing less.
ii) You keep missing the point of materialism. According to materialism, we are zombies. We have no mental life. That’s an illusion. And that’s the whole point of eliminative materialism, a la Crick, Dawkins, Dennett, the Churchlands, et al.
John, you are still enslaved to folk psychology. Didn’t you know you were a zombie?
ii) Materialism and idealism are both half-truths, as obverse sides of the same dualistic coin. Therein lies both their intellectual force and their intellectual failure.
“Have you read either Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained, or Francis Crick's, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul?”
i) One of your problems is that you don’t understand what you read. You have failed to absorb what a radical thesis they are really advancing.
ii) And have you ever read their many critics, a la BonJour, Chalmers, De Poe, Foster, Kim, Kripke, Moreland, Nagle, Paterson, Penrose, Plantinga, Reppert, Searle, Smythies, Swinburne, Taliaferro, Unger, Vallicella, &c.?